Tech startup Coleridge Design Associates is trying to raise $45,000 on Kickstarter to manufacture a sleek-looking and transparent-sounding desktop speaker system, the aCube BMR. I've covered Kickstarter projects before, but this time I had a chance to listen to the product, and the sound definitely piqued my interest.
The aCube uses an advanced 4.5-inch BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) driver mounted in handmade clear-cast acrylic 6.5-inch cube enclosures. The $180 speaker houses a stereo 20-watt Class-D amplifier, but if you want stereo sound, you have to buy a second speaker (without the amp) for $120. Optional at extra cost, inputs for Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, optical digital audio, and USB 2.0 Audio will be available as individual add-ons that plug into the speaker's 3.5mm jacks.
Coleridge Design Associates sent a pair of speakers. Fit and finish are superb, and the thick, anodized aluminum speaker grilles look great; the quality of the parts is excellent. The sound is, pardon my pun, remarkably transparent, so good recordings sound absolutely vivid and clear. On my desktop, acoustic jazz CDs sound pure and very present, and the stereo soundstage is broad and spacious. Web sites' streaming audio's gritty harshness has nowhere to hide. A pair of $199 Audioengine A2 speakers can't match the aCubes' clarity, but the A2s sound good with almost every source. They're more dynamically alive and powerful-sounding speakers.
The aCubes don't make much bass, so Coleridge Design Associates recommends using your phone's equalizer or an app to pump up the bass. I tried that approach, but the speaker distorted with extra bass. The aCube's Class D amp may be the culprit; it seems underpowered for the job at hand. The aCubes sound best played at low to moderate volume with acoustic music, they're not well suited to rock or any bass-heavy music. Coleridge Design Associates is planning on adding a subwoofer to the line in the future.
I'm intrigued by the aCube's potential, and I hope Coleridge Design Associates improves the sound before it starts manufacturing the speakers.